Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I know there are as many ways to rewrite as there are to write.  This means at least as many as there are writers.  When I finished the first draft of Far From the Sea I knew there were some plot issues. There were sequences that didn't make sense, missing bridges and no concept of the passage of time.  None of my other projects made it past the first draft so it was with great trepidation that I faced the necessity of doing rewrites.

As I have read through the ms I have come across a few (ok a lot) of scenes with unnatural conversation, common descriptions, bad metaphors and poor craft in general.  At first I wanted to stop and correct, rewrite, and polish each word but it just wasn't possible.  I decided that for this pass through I would focus solely on plot.  I wanted to be able to feel the flow of the story without being hung up on whether it should be "a" or "the".  Best decision of my life. (Other than marriage and family, of course, and getting an education, ordering pizza rather than cooking tonight….All right, best writing decision of my life.)

While at times it has been completely depressing to see in my minds eyes the line of scenes waiting to be edited which seemed to stretch into infinity, mostly it has been liberating.   I don’t feel so overwhelmed since I only have to worry about one aspect of the novel.  I know I can get the other stuff later.  I'll make as many revisions as I need.  One step at a time.

How do you rewrite?  Do you do everything at once, or make several passes?  Or do you actually know what you're doing when you start so there isn't much need for rewriting?


  1. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful experience for lots of reasons, but the one I found most rewarding was that I didn't have to edit as I went along, in fact it was forbidden. The objective was to WRITE. Start at the beginning and get to THE END....

    ... I tend to edit as I go. Not excessively, just a re-read of the session's work and make some changes or note what I need to do, usually with another color (red catches the writer-ly attention like nothing else!). But once I've reached 'THE END' then the rewrites begin...

    ... editing as you go can cut down on the number of times you do rewrites, but 'taint necessarily so. If the story arc changes, or your characters develop in ways that you didn't anticipate at the beginning to name just a few possibilities, then a-rewriting we will go until it's done!...

    ... The trick is knowing when to stop rewriting and start submitting.

  2. widdershins do you you have a blog or website?

    I do some editing as I go a long. I work on a scene over several writing days, trying to deepen the emotion and clarify the events. But I'm a chunk writer, so one scene doesn't necessarily lead to the next one. When I started FFTS I didn't have a plot in mind, just two characters (which is why I've had to do this plot rewrite, I didn't know what story I was telling) I hope the two after this book go smoother as I have a basic plot outline for both of them.

  3. Oh, no! Not Rewrites!!! I'm dreading that. I do a rough edit before I commit to the file as part of the SFD. I do know you have a great story, so I'm glad you went ahead and wrote. ; )

  4. I do... and I don't know why my name doesn't link to it, unless 'Blogger' doesn't talk to 'Wordpress' ...

    anyhoo, this is me:

    ... Would you be comfortable with me adding the link at the bottom of any comments I make here?

  5. That's fine to add your link. Have you tried answering under the name/URL option in the "Comment as" drop down? That might solve the link problem. I'll drop by your site as soon as I'm done here!

  6. Thanks Zan, while there are days I want to pull my hair out mostly I don't mind the rewrites. It's nice to see the story getting tighter and better.